About us

Our vision

At the Ford School, leadership is the behavioral process of having a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and communities.

Our mission

Our mission is to inspire and equip students to become agents of positive change in the world. In developing their leadership capabilities, we enable our students to become more self-aware, adept at creating productive relationships to work across differences. Through leading others and bringing their best selves to their life trajectories, our training allows students to craft and direct the systems and processes that produce lasting, sustainable impact on the public good.

Our team

The Ford School's Leadership Initiative team directs and facilitates leadership development opportunities for Ford School undergraduate and graduate students through curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular engagements.

Headshot of Morela Hernandez

Faculty director

Morela Hernandez

Morela Hernandez, the Ligia Ramirez de Reynolds Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, is an internationally recognized scholar with deep expertise in applying behavioral science insights to design and improve organizational systems and decision-making practices. She is widely published in top-tier academic journals and popular media outlets, and serves on several editorial boards.
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Headshot of Jennifer Niggemeier

Managing director

Jennifer Niggemeier

Jennifer leads a global team of 20+ executive leadership coaches delivering individual and group coaching to masters students, and designs and promotes programming for all students through courses and co-curricular activities. She is a certified coach holding both a PCC level certification from the International Coach Federation (ICF) and an Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University.
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Headshot of Claire Lowande

Program manager

Claire Lowande

Claire develops and supports leadership programming for Ford students and staff. She supports curricular and extracurricular projects like workshops and orientations. Claire is a certified Gallup Strengths coach, offering coaching to help students understand and leverage their Clifton Strengths results. She also manages the Leadership Initiative’s web resources and marketing strategies.
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Headshot of Cat Summers

Post-doctoral fellow

Cat Summers

Cat is an organizational psychologist who studies environmental justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at work, primarily drawing on social psychology theories. Her research program reflects her life-long passion for assisting leaders and organizations in navigating the nexus of environmental sustainability and justice. Prior to completing her PhD at the University of Virginia, she worked in environmental non-profits, managing corporate donors and working with campaigners on award-winning sustainability projects.
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Affiliated practitioners and scholars

Leadership Initiative Affiliated Scholars are external experts in organizational behavior, conflict analysis, restorative justice, and behavior change who serve as thought partners and collaborators who help shape leadership education at the Ford School. They offer their insights to students through guest lectures, curricular simulations, and other engagement opportunities.

  • Headshot of Estelle Archibold

    Dr. Estelle E. Archibold a Postdoctoral Scholar in Management and Organization at the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on generative conflict, allyship and cross-cultural dynamics, as well as social innovations in organizations. She uses process theory and emerging theory in positive institutional work as theoretical bases for my research. She is an organizational ethnographer who uses mixed and multi-modal methods to investigate organizations, fields and social movements.

    Estelle builds on more than fifteen (15) years of academic study and practice in conflict transformation, reconciliation, ethics, as well as cross-stakeholder negotiations in the United States and abroad in countries such as Liberia and Ghana in West Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Also, her prior executive coaching practice supported leaders, managers and teams experiencing conflict among members and followers during organizational mergers and reorganizations. She has worked across several sectors including government, not-for-profit, international development and education. Currently, she continues her engaged scholarship as a research affiliate of the Leadership Initiative with The University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy where she collaborates with scholars and practitioners on discovering the impact of cross-cultural transformative leadership, restorative justice and social movements on public policy decision-making.

    Scott Baker

    Scott Baker is a Principal Behavioral Scientist with BetterUp. His work blends behavioral science and technology in order to transform the capabilities of people and organizations. Scott completed his PhD in Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia.

    Cristiano L. Guarana

    Cristiano L. Guarana is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He received his PhD in Management in 2015 from the University of Washington and worked as post-doctoral researcher at the University of Virginia for two years. Prof. Guarana’s research examines how leaders and followers’ limited attentional resources affects decisions, relationships, and behaviors in complex organizational contexts. He is published in a number of top-tier academic journals, including Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Psychological Science, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. His work has also appeared in media outlets such as Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, The Observer (Association for Psychological Science), Fortune, Bloomberg Business, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Boston Globe, The Times (of London), Quartz, Discover Magazine Blog, The Tonic, The British Psychological Society, American Police Beat, and The Atlantic. He teaches courses on organizational behavior and leadership at Kelley. Prior to entering academia, Prof. Guarana was an entrepreneur and played professional basketball in Brazil.

    Headshot of John Pickering

    John Pickering is the Chief Behavioral Scientist at Evidn. Evidn is a behavioral science company that specializes in the design, delivery and evaluation of behavior change programs for improving outcomes at a population level. As Chief Behavioral Scientist, Dr. Pickering brings oversees the analysis, design, delivery and evaluation of behavior change programs across Evidn’s environmental, agricultural, health, energy, finance, transport, and judicial portfolios. 

    Dr Pickering is a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) expert steering group on agri-environmental behavior economics, and holds appointments at Princeton University and The University of Queensland.